IT’S as synonymous with parenting as tantrums, mess and meal-time stand-offs.
Parent guilt is a difficult cross to bear, with mums and dads constantly questioning their every decision and asking what Supernanny would do in any given situation.
And one of the biggest causes of guilt is whether or not we are spending enough quality time with our beloved offspring.
Some days you might barely see your child. Unless you call a frantic battle of wills in the morning as you desperately try to get everyone up, fed and dressed while making yourself look semi-presentable spending time with them.
So do parents need to be made to feel even more guilty about not spending enough time with their kids, or does a renewed drive to encourage them to take an hour out of every day to spend quality time together as a family help to focus their minds?
A new campaign called Pledge One Hour has been launched to “help” parents spend more time with their children after a recent survey found that 40 per cent of parents spend less than an hour of quality time with their children every day.
The idea is that the pledgeonehour.com website offers free resources to help busy parents make the most of the time they do spend with their children, as many parents say that a lack of resources and ideas is the main barrier to spending more time with their children.
Nicola Lamond, social media manager for Edinburgh Netmums, agrees that a lot of parents – especially working parents – feel guilty about not spending enough time with their kids, and quite often feel pressurised by media depictions of what they should be doing.
However, she says that by simply being more organised and being willing to seek inspiration and think slightly outside the box, busy parents can spend less time worrying about not fitting in enough quality time with their children and more time enjoying time together.
“Building it in to your day is the easiest way”, says the mother-of-two. “You can’t change your day with the school or nursery run but you can do things around it. As a working mum, I walk the kids to school. I like that time because we have a chat on the way. If I drive them to school, we don’t tend to chat as much.
“You have to be really organised and make the most of the little bits of time you have with them.
“You have to change your mindset. Leave the housework and scoop everyone up to the park instead, or to the garden for a game of catch. Even if you only have half an hour, turn off the telly and get out a board game or some craft supplies.
“Make sure you all sit round the table – phones off – each night so you can all catch up on your days.”
Nicola, whose daughters are aged ten and 12, says websites like Netmums and Pledge One Hour can give you the inspiration you need to turn the usual things you do with your children in to something a bit different, giving renewed energy and enthusiasms from both adults and kids.
“People say they don’t have enough ideas, so having ideas at your fingertips can make it easier to spend quality time with your children,” she explains. “On Netmums we have a nice idea where you get a jar – we call it a boredom busters jar – and get everyone to put ideas in it of things they would like to do. Sometimes it just inspires you and shakes things up a bit because you tend to do the same old things.
“You can go on a walk and print out simple treasure or nature hunts – just easy things like finding a pine cone or finding a tree you can get your arms around. Simple things that shake up the things you usually do with the kids.”
The study of more than 1100 parents which inspired the Pledge One Hour campaign was conducted on behalf of Weekend Box Club – which provides creative activities for parents and children to do together.
Founder Andy Stephenson says: “I don’t want to live in a world where parents and children face greater detachment due to the pressures of daily life, where children are left to entertain themselves with solitary screen time or mindless toys.”